Similar to other regions in Mexico, corn is a dietary staple and other indigenous foods remain strong in the cuisine as well. Along with a chile called simojovel, used nowhere else in the country, the cuisine is also distinguished by the use of herbs, such as chipilín and hierba santa. Like in Oaxaca, tamales are usually wrapped in banana leaves (or sometimes with the leaves of hoja santa), but often chipilín is incorporated into the dough. As in the Yucatán Peninsula, boiled corn is drunk as a beverage called pozol, but here it is usually flavored with all-natural cacao. Another beverage (which can be served hot or cold) typical from this region is Tascalate, which is made of powdered maize, cocoa beans, achiote (annatto), chilies, pine nuts and cinnamon.
The favored meats are beef, pork and chicken (introduced by the Spanish), especially in the highlands, which favors the raising of livestock. The livestock industry has also prompted the making of cheese, mostly done on ranches and in small cooperatives, with the best known from Ocosingo, Rayón and Pijijiapan. Meat and cheese dishes are frequently accompanied by vegetables, such as squash, chayote, and carrots.